Friday, March 11, 2016

Other Planes of There. Unbelievable Animations Restored by the Academy Film Archive (curated by Mark Toscano)

John Whitney: Permutations

Other Planes of There. Unbelievable Animations Restored by the Academy Film Archive
Curated, introduced, and program notes by Mark Toscano.
Tampere Film Festival (TFF), 11+12 March, 2016, Plevna 6

John Whitney | United States 1968 | Experimental, Animation | 8 min
    Mark Toscano: "An utterly formative computer animation classic, Permutations is an early apotheosis of John Whitney’s deep- and far-reaching ideas about image, motion, and the complementarity of music and visual art."
    AA:  Spinning, swirling, spirals, colour systems, non stop transformations, computer graphics, resembling Whitney's Vertigo Lissajoux patterns in black and white, like an electronic jellyfish, a rhythmic universe, a cosmic dance. IBM grant. Music: Sundaram Balachander (tbc). This film like Penelope Spheeris' Synthesis brings to my mind Erkki Kurenniemi and Spindrift (1966).

Jane Conger Belson Shimane | United States 1957 | Experimental, Animation | 2 min
    Mark Toscano: "One of only two films completed by the former Jane Belson, this short but dense film is a fun, hypnotic, and lively Beat-era mini-masterpiece, full of energy and accompanied by an electronic score by the legendary Henry Jacobs."
    AA: Clearly defined abstract patterns against a black background.

Peter Spoecker / B.Y.M. Productions | United States 1968 | Experimental, Animation | 9 min
    Mark Toscano: "In some ways, this film could be described as a quintessential psychedelic animation, with its radical abstractions and mind-bending visual transformations. But its virtuosic technique and sophisticated conception allow it to rise above the merely “trippy” and become something transcendent."
    AA:  Psychedelic curves, meditations of existence, an adventure into metamorphoses, in black and white.

Primary Stimulus
Robert Russett | United States 1977/80 | Experimental, Animation | 8 min
    Mark Toscano: "As the title suggests, this film is, in some ways, cinema at its essence. An utterly binary black/white, articulated in the kineticism of a rapidly changing set of horizontal lines (which also produce the elementally pulsating sound), creates a tightly wound cinema of stimulus response."
    AA: A highly graphic movie, flicker movie, noise like static, sound frequencies and line density correlating.

James Otis | United States 1981 | Experimental, Animation | 2 min
    Mark Toscano: "Cinematic polyglot James Otis produced a striking group of monochrome computer animations in the early 1980s, each articulating a beautifully refined distillation of movement, form, and space. Gridrose, one of the shortest in the series, is also one of the most bewitchingly simple, as a stylized floral form expands and collapses in and out of great complexity."
    AA: Silent. Extreme abstraction.

Water for Maya
Stan Brakhage | United States 2000 | Experimental, Animation | 4 min
    Mark Toscano: "In tribute to Maya Deren, this late hand-painted film by the absolute master of the form is a poetic study in contrasting, simultaneous planes of image, flowing like liquids at different speeds over an implied landscape."
    AA:  Silent. An incredible movie which looks like every single frame is separately painted. This would merit being transferred to a slow motion version. Yet the fleeting nature of the images is of the essence.

Flesh Flows
Adam Beckett | United States 1974 | Experimental, Animation | 6 min
    Mark Toscano: "Adam Beckett’s virtuosic, metamorphosing line animation, here invoking the erotic and the grotesque, is rendered exponentially more complex as he treats his raw material with his characteristic, utterly transformative optical printing techniques."
    AA:  The sound of a stream gives a flowing sense to this weirdly sexual vision of strange creatures in non stop intercourse. The images metamorphose in a peaceful rhythm, at times appearing in naked human forms, forever changing.

A Film for Log Hill Dogs
Diana Wilson, David Wilson | United States 1974 | Experimental, Animation | 2 min
    Mark Toscano: "The Wilsons’ radical transition from living remotely in the Colorado Rockies to a small apartment in Los Angeles in 1974 serves as inspiration for this beautiful line animation which uses iconic forms and changing spatial relationships to express a first-person conflict pivoting on feelings of confinement and yearning."
    AA:  Silent. Sneaking forms.

Film for Log Hill Dogs: The Log Hill Story
Diana Wilson | United States 1976 | Experimental, Animation | 2 min
    Mark Toscano: "This haunting follow-up to the previous Log Hill film visualizes a lost landscape drawn from dream and memory, elevated to the level of myth by its use of expressive textures, movements, and dissolving forms."
    AA:  Silent. I failed to take notes here.

Hifi Cadets
Lewis Klahr | United States 1989 | Experimental, Animation | 11 min
    Mark Toscano: "In his major series of twelve super 8 films, Tales of the Forgotten Future (1988-91), Lewis Klahr created an incredibly sophisticated collage epic that draws richly on the embedded emotional and psychological histories of the American consciousness. Hifi Cadets, working with themes of longing, disappointment, and the questionable role of the mythic, interweaves the stories of a few characters who, in one way or another, are doing what they need to do to make it through their lives."
    AA:  Screened as a digital file. Falstaff and Prince Hal speech bubbles in type written pieces of paper. DIY approach, cut-out space adventure animation.

Suzan Pitt | United States 1971 | Experimental, Animation | 7 min
    Mark Toscano: "In her early masterpiece, Suzan Pitt created a movingly intimate and dream-like self-portrait of the young artist in the conflicted, prismatic identity of mother, wife, artist, and sexual being."
    AA:  Ultra limited animation in a naivistic mode, intimate scenes of family life, joy of love, a cucumber like a Zeppelin flying across the bedroom.

A Hard Passage
Sky-David (formerly Dennis Pies) | United States 1981 | Experimental, Animation | 9 min
    Mark Toscano: "A breathtakingly beautiful, strangely unsettling animated adaptation of Hermann Hesse’s Der schwere Weg, Sky David’s nearly overwhelmingly gorgeous draughtsmanship pits first-person text against abstracted states of dream consciousness to illustrate an otherwise indescribable inward journey."
    AA:  Abstract visions of highly sensual motifs (organic, fecund, sexual, flowery, vaginal) with a visual approach resembling watercolour. Rorschach patterns, egg shapes, a man's face inside the vagina, inside a red membrane. Music: Ben Stoloff.

The Secret Story
Janie Geiser | United States 1996 | Experimental, Animation | 8 min
    Mark Toscano: "An elliptical but moving and impressionistic narrative is coaxed from the latent poetry of a variety of decaying toy figures. In her inspired use of the emblematic and her ability to conjure so many unexpected emotional resonances, Janie Geiser has created a powerful, mysterious story, the secret of which will perhaps be distinctly unique for each viewer."
    AA:  Photographic imagery plus cut-outs. A multi-layered, multi-material object animation. The patina of time as a means of expression. Old toys. Objects and images damaged by rain. Regression to infantilism as an approach. Fast edits. The sound: rain.

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